"Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.”
I've heard this quote attributed to several different people ranging from Eleanor Roosevelt to Socrates himself. So I really have no clue where it first came from, but I don't want to let that detail detract from its sting.
Have you ever noticed that when you get together to visit with others, particularly a group of women, there is a huge tendency to talk about other women... our children... our husbands... that so and so at church who did...
That sort of talk often qualifies as gossip - "... the casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details that are not confirmed as being true. [Think] words like rumor, tittle-tattle, whispers, canards, tidbits, scandal, hearsay, dirt, buzz, scuttlebutt." (from a Google definition search). A person who engages in said behavior, "a person who likes talking about other people's private lives. [Think] scandalmonger, gossipmonger, tattler, busybody, muckraker, whisperer, flibbertigibbet" is often identified as a gossip.
|photo credit: Luz Adriana Villa A. via photopin cc|
According to God's Word, gossip is a sin: James 1.25, Titus 3.2, Matthew 12.36, and James 4.11, for example.
Without wood a fire goes out;
without a gossip a quarrel dies down.
As charcoal to embers and as wood to fire,
so is a quarrelsome person for kindling strife.
The words of a gossip are like choice morsels;
they go down to the inmost parts. (Proverbs 26.20-22)
Gossip fuels flames of bad feeling, prejudice and disunity; it keeps negativity burning and creates an environment of distrust and division. Quarrels continue. Heat builds until it causes explosion. And we all know that. We've all engaged in gossip and know what our thoughts and words about others have been. We've all been victims of others' gossip and know how behind your back words and laughter slice deep - often not just wounding but leaving deep and exposed scars.
What really gets me, though, is that last verse. Gossip is a choice morsel.
That makes me think of a really good grilled steak - the kind of meat where one bite leaves you craving the next... where you are torn between eating faster and faster... or savoring each bite to make it last as long as possible... where smell, appearance, even the sound of the meat grilling, the knife slicing, jaw chewing all join together with amazing taste to satisfy deeply. That's the thing about gossip: even though I know it is a sin, that it displeases God, reflects negatively on me, hurts the person about whom I speak and influences the actions/behaviors of any listeners toward my subject of gossip... it tempts because it satisfies the flesh and worldly cravings.
Sometimes my temptation to gossip is a clear reflection of godliness and the God-centeredness of my day-to-day moments at any particular time. Its appeal functions very much like a barometer in my daily life as I interact with my husband, my kids, my friends...
How about you? Do you ever struggle with this when you go for a visit... or when a friend comes to visit?